« PreviousContinue »
THE CASE OF CREIGHTON v. TOWNSEND:
IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS,
My Lord and Gentlemen, I AM with my learned brethren counsel for the plaintiff . My friend Mr. Curran has told
you the nature of the action. It has fallen to
lot to state more at large to you the aggression by which it has been occasioned. Believe me it is with no paltry affectation of under-valuing my very humble powers that I wish he had selected some more experienced, or at least less credulous advocate. I feel I cannot do my duty; I am not fit to address
I have incapacitated myself; I know not whether any of the calumnies which have so industriously anticipated this trial, have reached
your ears; but I do confess they did so wound and poison mine, that to satisfy my doubts I visited the house of misery and mourning, and the scene which set scepticism at rest, has set description, at defiance. Had I not yielded to those interested misrepresentations, I might from my brief have sketched the fact, and from my fancy drawn the consequences; but as it is, reality rushes before my frighted memory, and silences the tongue and mocks the imagination. Believe me, Gentlemen, you are impannelled there upon no ordinary occasion; nominally, indeed, you are to repair a private wrong, and it is a wrong as deadly as human wickedness can inflict--as human weakness can endure; a wrong which annihilates the hope of the parent and the happiness of the child; which in one moment blights the fondest anticipations of the heart, and darkens the social hearth, and worse than depopulates the habitations of the happy! But, Gentlemen, high as it is, this is far from your exclusive duty. You are to do much more. You are to say whether an example of such transcendant turpitude is to stalk forth for public imitation—whether national morals are to have the law for their protection, or imported crime is to feed upon impunity-whether chastity and religion are still to be permitted to linger in this province, or it is to become one loathsome den of legalized prostitution-whether the sacred volume of the Gospel, and the venerable statutes of the law are still to be respected, or converted into a pedestal on which the mob and the military
are to erect the idol of a drunken adoration. Gentlemen, these are the questions you are to try; hear the facts on which your decision must be founded.
It is now about five-and-twenty years since the plaintiff, Mr. Creighton, commenced business as a slate merchant in the city of Dublin. His vocation was humble, it is true, but it was nevertheless honest; and though, unlike his opponent, the heights of ambition lay not before him, the path of respectability did—he approved himself a good man and a respectable citizen. Arrived at the age of manhood, he sought not the gratification of its natural desires by adultery or seduction. For him the home of honesty was sacred; for him the poor man's child was unassailed; no domestic desolation mourned his enjoyment; no anniversary of wo commemorated his achievements ; from his own sphere of life naturally and honourably he selected a companion, whose beauty blessed his bed, and whose virtues consecrated his dwelling. Eleven lovely children blessed their union, the darlings of their heart, the delight of their evenings, and as they blindly anticipated, the prop and solace of their approaching age. Oh! SACRED WEDDED LOVE! how dear! how delightful! how divine are thy enjoyments ! Contentment crowns thy board, affection glads thy fireside ; passion, chaste but ardent, modest but intense, sighs o'er thy couch, the atmo sphere of paradise ! Surely, surely, if this consecrated right can acquire from circumstances a fac titious interest, 'tis when we see it cheering the
poor man's home, or shedding over the dwelling of misfortune the light of its warm and lovely consolation. Unhappily, Gentlemen, it has that interest here. That capricious power which often dignifies the worthless hypocrite, as often wounds the industrious and the honest. The late ruinous contest, having in its career confounded all the proportions of society, and with its last gasp sighed famine and 'misfortune on the world, has cast my industrious client, with too many of his companions, from competence to penury. Alas, alas, to him it left worse of its satellites behind it; it left the invader even of his misery—the seducer of his sacred and unspotted innocent. Mysterious Providence ! was it not enough that sorrow robed the happy home in mourning-was it not enough that disappointment preyed upon its loveliest prospects—was it not enough that its little inmates cried in vain for bread, and heard no answer but the poor father's sigh, and drank no sustenance but the wretched mother's tears? Was this a time for passion, lawless, conscienceless, licentious passion, with its eye of lust, its heart of stone, its hand of rapine, to rush into the mournful sanctuary of misfortune, casting crime into the cup of wo, and rob the parents of their last wealth, their child, and rob the child of her only charm, her innocence!! That this has been done I am instructed we shall
what requital it deserves, Gentlemen, you must prove to mankind.
The defendant's name I understand is TOWNSEND. He is of an age when every generous blossom of
the spring should breathe an infant freshness round his heart; of a family which should inspire not only high but hereditary principles of honour; of a profession whose very essence is a stainless chivalry, and whose bought and bounden duty is the protection of the citizen. Such are the advantages with which he appears before you-fearful advantages, because they repel all possible suspicion; but you will
agree with me, most damning adversaries, if it shall appear that the generous ardour of his youth was chilled—that the noble inspiration of his birth was spurned-that the lofty impulse of his profession was despised--and that all that could grace, or animate, or ennoble, was used to his own discredit and his fellow-creature's misery.
It was upon the first of June last, that on the banks of the canal, near Portobello, Lieutenant Townsend first met the daughter of Mr. Creighton, a pretty interesting girl, scarcely sixteen years of age. She was accompanied by her little sister, only four years old, with whom she was permitted to take a daily walk in that retired spot, the vicinity of her residence. The defendant was attracted by her appearance-he left his party, and attempted to converse with her; she repelled his advanceshe immediately seized her infant sister by the hand, whom he held as a kind of hostage for an introduction to his victim. A prepossessing appearance, a modesty of deportment apparently quite incompatible with any evil design, gradually silenced her alarm, and she answered the common-place ques